Monday, March 25, 2013

Facing Burnout

By Virgil R. Carter 
Chief staff officers in nonprofit organizations are interface between an organization’s members, customers and staff.  Chief staff officers are always “on stage”, always being observed and often being evaluated by a host of volunteers and staff, each with varying perspectives and motives.  Sound familiar?  Year after year of this can easily bring a chief staff officer face to face with burnout.  Have you experienced burnout?  Do you know CEOs who have gone through burnout?  The continuous, never-ending burden of top leadership can wear anyone down.

Are there some ways to reduce or avoid burnout? 

A recent Internet article from LeaderPoint notes that while the weight of being in charge can overcome the most successful leaders, burnout is often a function of not delegating and working through others effectively.  Harvard Business Review blogger John Baldoni is quoted as stating that the “best way to overcome the drive than made (CEOs) successful in the first place—the relentless pursuit of perfection—is to shift focus from one’s own success to the success of the executive team.”

Here are some suggestions from the article to help avoid burnout:

--Lead through others:  Being a CEO widens the scope and increases the magnitude of the results to be achieved.  Assign others the significant outcomes so that the CEO is not the bottleneck, consumed with personal problem-solving.

--Knowing everything:  No CEO can do everything well.  Accepting that no one can possibly know everything allows one to ask more questions, learn more and allows the work to remain with those show should be doing it.

--Enabling others:  Motivating others is a challenge.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Instead, focus on the work to be done, the desired outcome and assign these to key staff.  Big jobs with significant outcomes tend to motivate people.

The bottom line is about getting results, consistently over time.  It’s hard to do that without the support and assistance from others. One of the best ways for CEOs to achieve success is to drop their invincibility posture.  Successful leadership and successful organizations are not a solo act.

To read the article “Avoid Burnout by Focusing on Your Team”, by John Baldoni, go here:

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